ARTIST: Bloodhounds On My Trail
RELEASE: Haunted Isles
RELEASE DATE: 18th November 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Moon Sounds Records
There’s a new found focus on narrative on the new Bloodhounds On My Trail EP (or should that be mini-album?), 'Haunted Isle'. The Melbourne-based behemoths have tapped into a story-telling tradition and married it with the huge, dreamlike soundscapes that they’ve established such a strong reputation for. Building on the sonic structures of last year’s 'Escape II', this feels like a more rounded creation, softer and warmer in places. Combined with the lyrical themes, it somehow imbues the record with a sense that maybe all isn’t lost, and that’s a welcome thought as we approach the end of this bleak year.
Haunted Isles by Bloodhounds On My Trail
It doesn’t seem as though it’ll start off that way with the opening track 'Gallows'. Despite the name though, this is a beautiful swell of a song and immerses us in the effervescing waters of 'Haunted Isle'. The gentle giant 'Over The Wall', is a richly textured piece, huge and fluid. The Loop’s hypnotic harmonies have light bouncing off every layer. The shimmering sound of 'Sink' has a few Cure-like signals in there. Places Like This’s huge chorus is a wave of relief and release. Dare I feel a little hope? 'Words Like Weapons' seems like the most appropriately titled tune of 2016, but if it is bitter, it hides it well under swathes of beautiful noise.
'Bloodhounds On My Trail' had hoped to make it to the UK earlier this year, but it wasn’t to be. Maybe 2017 will see them make it to this Haunted Isle?
The 'Haunted Isle EP' is available to buy/download right now from: moonsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
In her time, Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr has attended raves and rock clubs. She enjoys pedals, pizza and spy dramas. Sarah also plays guitar in Edinburgh-based noisemakers Wozniak and is co-founder of Morningside Young Team who put on gigs and put out records for discerning audiences who enjoy fuzz and confusion.
by Primal Music
RELEASE DATE: November 18th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Cleopatra Records
Programmed drums, dream pop guitars and the deep contextual influence of 80’s post-punk and ethereal wave combine with absolutely brilliant song writing on the debut album of Californian shoegaze/darkwave/post-punk band Echolust. 'Veldisa' is a sprawling, dark yet beautiful musical journey through moods and places, sounds and lyrics and contrastingly vivid soundscapes. Upon almost every track the band exercise some sort of gaze back into the past; but this act surpasses nostalgia and more offers commentary on thought and pondering. It’s beautiful and dream pop inspired guitar riffs support the slow and swinging music to fantastic degrees; expressing emotion through music with some wild sort of ease.
Veldisa by Echolust
‘1799’ opens the album with a dreamy guitar riff and a drum machine inspired by the double tap of the French coldwave and the early 80’s programmed beats of post-punk bands. Mixed within the song is the screech of a slow and winding synthesizer that seeps out when the soaring and wide chorus opens; offering a neat a song writing counterpoint to the language and sounds used within the verse of the song. The track retains a slow and winding quality which somehow never gets boring; an indication of a well written and instrumented song. ‘Cherry Dancer’ showcases the bands more shoegaze tendencies with its largely reverbed opening. The echoes of dream pop still linger however, so much so that ‘Cherry Dancer’ seems like a next door neighbour or companion piece to the more up tempo ‘1799’. From there the band leaps forward into a fantastically disco-darkwave inspired track titled ‘Dark Hair Girl’. The backing of the song sounds similar to an EDM/Dance style track; which contextually mixes well with the more alternative rock aspects that the song holds. The vocals remain deep and full of FX, which makes the singing sound like a direct instrument in the landscape of all of the instrumentation. ‘Dark Hair Girl’s best moments are when the vocals go higher and the band follow, showing off their talent of creating soaring style dream pop.
One of the greatest tracks on the entire album ‘Decor Blonde’ displays the band in full shoegaze swing; reverb drenched guitars and a slower and darker tempo. I believe it to be one of the greatest on the album simply for its fantastic wall of sound styled production; a form and style that adds a whole other dimension to shoegaze music. The lyrics also practice exactly what I mentioned before accompanied by the fantastic guitars and bass, they add an emotive element to the music and sound of the song. Praise also to the fantastic outro on the song, which takes on a whole brilliant sound of its own. ‘Doublespeak’ returns to a more post-punk formula but retains elements of the shoegaze sound explored on ‘Decor Blonde’. This song also takes the disco beats explored on ‘Dark Hair Girl’ a step further with a tight bass and drums section that sounds exactly like a R’n’B inspired track. ‘Doublespeak’ also relies more heavily upon the gradual tap of the programmed drums in the back of the mix. Perhaps the weakest song on the album is the darkwave heavy ‘Electric’; a lengthy and indulgent track with lyrics that seem like they were written by a completely different band than the previous tracks.
‘For Least Resistance’ brings things back into the bands sphere; featuring a synthwave drum and soundscape style of tone with the fancy shoegaze styles of the dream pop guitar. The track even features an experimental-trap influenced style drum machine beat throughout the song which melds into the music in an interesting and engaging way. The strange lo-fi/alt-rock genius of ‘This Blurry Kill’ shows another side of the bands talent of song-writing; tied off magically with the experimental soundscape stationed in the mix. The title track is another contender for the albums weakest song. It sounds somewhere between a B-side and a draft; featuring comedically confusing drum patterns and boring mid-tone vocals. Thankfully the band turn everything around with the fantastic ‘Velvet Holiday’ which rehashes all of the bands fantastic post-punk songs into a dark, more straight forward and heavy song. It’s almost as though Echolust wanted to connect the more synth and darkwave influenced side of their album with the more post-punk side and speaking of which, the atmospheric ‘Zombie Birds’ connects both sides together in sound with the dance influenced drum machine beats and the shoegaze styled bass, guitars and synth. Together this mixture creates something that sounds almost on the borderline of industrial music, something I suppose the band have constantly toyed with on the entire album. ‘Zombie Birds’ features a fantastic and mesmerizing intro that leads into the lyrically diverse verse and chorus in which the fantastic backing soundscapes and sneaky production sneak back into the song.
A few songs into Veldisa I wondered why the band wasn’t going pro; the songs were well-written, thoroughly beautiful, experimental and original pieces of brilliant music. After the opening few songs I was a little less mesmerized and by the second half I showed little-interest to the music, but the second half of the second half managed to turn it around and recapture some of the magic of the beginning. And that, in essence, is how Veldisa could be summed up. The album as a whole drags on and on and on (there are too many songs) and with less engaging songs in the middle, the listener just becomes more bored as the album plays through. In said mid-album area, the songs begin to sound more and more like clichéd and distant dance tracks thrown together to fill album space… But Veldisa doesn’t need album fillers. The band should have stuck to their guns and produced a more compact album with the same sharp and fantastic song writing skills displayed at the albums opening. For that reason Veldisa as a whole seems tiresome in structure, even when a lot of the songs are so well written.
The production is good, the mixing is great and the performances should also receive praise. Together these elements carry the album in its more paint-drying moments and prove that, although not throughout the total album, Echolust can produce a fantastic quality of song writing. I believe the opening few tracks are so good they almost carry the albums more weaker points and for that reason one should definitely listen intently to Echolust’s fantastic skills. These are achieved through mixing, production, performance and sound.
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
Brooklyn based experimental post-punk/dark-wave trio 'Decorum' have unleashed a masterful new video to accompany their latest single entitled 'Near Gone'. Summoning the ghost of MTV and those early 90's music video trends, 'Decorum' have used a home made green screen to superimpose themselves over a dilapidated church. The video was filmed in their closet of a practice space which measures 9ft by 9ft. It's this kind of DIY attitude that makes bands like 'Decorum' stand out from the crowd. After all, the foundations of post-punk were manufactured around the creative genius of forward thinking DIY musicians. Without their educated madness there would be no post-punk!
ARTIST: Curelight Wounds
RELEASE: Wearing The Strings EP
RELEASE DATE: November 1st 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Brooklyn based noisy lo-fi aficionados ‘Curelight Wounds’ unleash a monumental brand new four track EP to the masses entitled ‘Wearing The Strings’ on November 1st 2016. The EP brings with it a mixed bag of influential sounds that includes surging shoegaze, driving post punk and a splattering of lo-fi frequencies that collectively are guaranteed to stir the deepest of melancholic feelings from the most introverted amongst the underground gazing fraternity.
‘Wearing The Strings’ opens up with its title track, gloriously held within a turbulent maelstrom of angry noise and driving melodious bass frequencies. ‘Wearing The Strings’ weaves and soars effortlessly through layers of screaming feedback and pounding drums as its vocals swim through a deep dark sea of lo-fi brilliance. Up next, (the very punk like) ‘Sail It Away’ is awash in reverberation as its brilliant bass line undulates between the soaring guitars and the pounding drums whilst all the while being straddled by a repetitious vocal progression. ‘Sail It Away’ is absolutely magnificent and probably my favourite track on this entire release.
The EP’s penultimate track is a work of art. ‘Salted Hour’ drives headlong into the sonic ether on a skittish percussive pattern brilliantly underscored by weaving post-punk inspired bass frequencies and a raging cacophony of thunderous reverberation. Again, the lo-fi vocals cut an unwavering wedge through proceedings as the swirling accompanying guitars perform whammy bar theatrics as they unleash a wave of beautiful noise. The final track on this impressive release is ‘All In Red’. A melodious affair filled with snaking bass lines and addictive lead guitar progressions that weave in and out of that sublime vocal take with ease. Reminiscent at times to early ‘Cure’ or Boston’s own ‘Swirlies’, ‘All In Red’ is a fitting ending to a bloody marvellous EP.
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has hepled him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
ARTIST: Total Gaze
RELEASE: We Need More Condos
RELEASE DATE: September 13 2016
The intelligently and humorously named We Need More Condos is the debut album from Minnesota’s own Total Gaze, a band who sport the term post-shoegaze… Which is interesting both ways; whether you believe it to be a genre or not… But it’s getting off topic to debate genres and sub-genres and how many pedals you need to qualify as a specific type of band; the album evokes a lot of different genres however, including post-punk, shoegaze, ambient and dream rock, just to name a few. Total Gaze juggle these sounds into an impressive and tightly knit type of musical odyssey that sounds a lot let less clean than the average ‘modern shoegaze’ album; bordering on what some would call ‘garage’ and touching on the realms of the whimsically dirty musical genre known as ‘lo-fi’.
We Need More Condos by Total Gaze
We Need More Condos begins with ‘Solid Gold’ which embodies more of the bands gutter sound than its core shoegaze sound. Noisy, unfiltered guitars are coupled with percussive-heavy drums and a low-key bass tone to create a neat, albeit slight, garage rock tune. The influence of shoegaze and post-punk seeps in on the second half of the track, with the song maintaining its garage undertones while embracing an alternative style of guitar riff. An interlude (one of three on the album) features some nice cricket noises but serves no true purpose. One of the greatest tracks on the album is the lo-fi, amazing ‘Don’t Ask’ which remains brilliant in its simplicity. The song utilizes the bands previous garage guitar sound with a fantastically downbeat shoegaze inspired tune. The chorus, in particular, should be praised for its simple breakdown style of song writing and drumming; drawing a fantastic and easily accessible line in the sand between the sounds of shoegaze and the rough, crunchy punk sound. ‘Facing Inward’ plays out in a similar fashion; this time the band sound more up tempo with shaking maraca percussion and brighter guitar sounds. The vocals display influence from no-wave New York yelling and screaming, purposefully distanced from the rest of the mix in a way that does nothing but favours for the type of music the band strut.
‘Interlude 2’ sits warmly between ‘Facing Inward’ and the genius ‘On Fire’, which furthers the band sound. One particular fantastic piece of song writing and vocal delivery is the ‘oh wo, oh wo, oh, wo wo!’ which leads into easily the best chorus and outro on the entire album. This tight sound is perhaps the closest the band get too what you would call ‘post-shoegaze’ with its obvious sound blending at a very downtempo point. Couple this with the sketchy, murmured lyrics and vocals that are still stationed underneath the distorted guitars and rattling drums. Halfway through the song I thought the band had turned the direction of the sound around against themselves, but this interlude style passage of music that sits before one of the chorus’s suits the entire song with a few more listens. ‘Interlude 3’ plays out as an airy-FX filled conversation with a voice drowned in reverb and radio static. It is probably the only Interlude that really and truly alters the context of the album when listened to it in its entirety. A post-punk anthem ‘Sauna Sweet’ follows in a cleaner, much more modern sounding way. While this song may not be quite as compelling as others, it showcases some fantastic performances and features a neat guitar solo/ riff in the second half of the song. Similarly the vocals reach a shaky/louder style that seemed more drowned out by instruments on previous tracks. ‘Television’ opens with an indie style pattern of guitar riff followed by drum beats; this is however drowned out by a fully-fledged piece of shoegaze instrumentation. While it sets up some nice instrumentation and a perhaps more colourful sound than some of the previous ‘heavier’ tracks, ‘Television’ never really fully showcases the band’s sound and song writing skill to its full extent as many of the other tracks do. And while it is not a bad song by any means it’s position on the album and its contextual weight (comparing it to the bands other songs) means that ‘Television’ doesn’t shape up to the heights of the majority of the album.
We Need More Condos is refreshing without seeming avant-garde, fun without seeming childish and intellectual without ever coming across as pretentious. Ultimately there are a couple of ways to listen to the album. One, you can listen to it without any context; instead just for pure listening and interest. This way is rewarding and ultimately shows off and flaunts the bands greatest strengths while simultaneously travelling from track to track. The second, perhaps deeper, way of listening to We Need More Condos is the contextual and conceptual way. This entails asking what ‘modern’ style shoegaze sounds like; the answer being quite different to that of the sound of Total Gaze. And while this album is by no means the most experimentally-history advancing piece of shoegaze music to present itself for a modern audience, it is one that should be appreciated and applauded. So with the clean crisp sound of shoegaze adding to the contextual side of We Need More Condos, the album can be easily listened to as a step away from clichés and distant, echoed sounds that at times borderline completely on ambient music for other bands. Of course, We Need More Condos will not be for all audiences, and with the aforementioned ‘second way’ of listening to consider, it also will not be for all shoegaze lovers. At times the desperate and distanced style of vocals will sound too punk-ish and garage for some listeners, while the guitars and musical arrangements may be enough for others to steer away from the band.
We Need More Condos is, however (albeit not for all) a recommended listen. The sounds and songs fit well together and pan out from the pure alt-rock/garage sound of ‘Solid Gold’ to the sheer post-punk and dream style tones of songs like ‘On Fire’. The band present a wild and tightly garage blend of the alternative, ‘high’ side of town, and the dreamy gutter; drawing an elegant and talented musical line in the sand. They achieve so through the avenues of performance, production and sound.
ARTIST: Jenny Besetzt
RELEASE: Tender Madness
RELEASE DATE: 15th July 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Friends Records
Tender Madness is a full length album by North Carolina’s Jenny Besetzt, a group who uses fast tempo in contrast with dark sounds to create deep and vast post-punk that sounds as if it was conceived at the beginning of the post-punk era, but was recorded much, much later. Over the course of eight tracks the band do little to confront the listener; an intelligent and crafty move… Instead they pull their music back from distinct definition and throw very few punches. You’re probably thinking that’s an insult, but it’s very much the opposite. Modern post-punk bands try so very hard for sounds and songs to be noticed… They throw soundscape after soundscape, turn instruments up louder, sing the lyrics in Japanese, play with their guitars not plugged into an amp and what not just so the audience, or the reviewer, says something like ‘this album is really in your face’ or ‘there is a lot going on in this album’. Sure they may be compliments, but when so many bands do it, it’s refreshing to hear a post-punk outfit sketch out songs and play them as they are… You know, without a million different guitar lines that all sound muted because the kick drum is turned up so loud.
Tender Madness by Jenny Besetzt
Tender Madness opens with ‘Authorless Speech’ a fantastically dark and shoegaze-inspired song that starts with slow and neat dream pop guitar after which fantastic double tap drums enter, but only distantly, in the background of the music. Through this brilliant piece of song writing, Jenny Besetzt begin to display the kind of musical colouring they fluently practice possess; firstly with the magnificent post-punk sound and then with the heavy, deep and baritone vocals, which brings the song onto a whole other level. Black As The Night purrs on a beautiful vocal, it's the albums entire vocal section that really holds everything together fantastically, especially the instrumental riffs and the beautiful underpinned synths. Such amazing synth tone may be heard on ‘Dorothy Everything’s Fine’, one of the albums true highlights; inspired by darkwave dance tracks and slow, classic post-punk guitar with bass that is drowned out by the aforementioned synth sounds during the chorus. Soft spoken, murmuring, deep vocals float heavily within the mix and the whole thing sounds like a true reflection of a style of sound that so many bands have tried to reach for but just end up sounding generic within. An average interlude follows, entitled ‘Kanizsa Triangle’ which is built predominantly around a choir like synth piece that plays softly with a few samples chipping in the background.
‘Lunar Talks’ opens with what sounds like a heavy metal riff, but eventually seeps back into a dream pop style tune. Over the course of the song, the band build up an alternative, dream like riff before splintering back into heavy, industrial sounds of the beginning giving the song a wild and spinning feeling. Perhaps the greatest song on the album is the playful, dreamy and utterly beautiful title track; its beginning is that of a loose, pictorial dream sketch, utilized through soaring synths and guitars. This song is the closest the band get to what some may refer to as ‘nostalgia’ and they do so with a kind of elegance and grace that never broaches textured simplicity. Eventually the song gets more downtempo and situates itself back in the light of the bands previous sound, but all the while it never exceeds its trance-like beauty and swift, easy appearance. Both Tender Madness & ‘The Rabbit’ acts as a sense of ease and ambience to the dark and heavy post-punk songs that preceded them. The Rabbit features lighter vocals, a brighter and more melodic sound courtesy of the indie-inspired guitar plucking and the pulsating soundscape of synth under the mix. One should also listen closely to the enthralling instrumental outro to the song, which crescendos into a fantastic math/post-rock inspired piece of guitar and drum playing. This tiny piece of music, enough to only fill a small portion of the song, is symbolism of absolute musical genius; subtle, engaging, alternative and absolutely captivating in its presentation.
And that’s that. But before you go and enjoy these songs on all their post-punk merit and dark but sweet musical textures, there is something more to be perceived about this album. Go out and find a modern post-punk album and I am sure that the band will go deeper and darker as the album goes on. Either that or they will chuck a lengthy, epic, synth and soundscape filled piece on the tail end of the release. Well, Jenny Besetzt have done neither of these. They’ve instead started with the dark and substantial alternative musings and drawn out the ending to something else, to something more; something that sounds more illuminated. With this in mind (and what was written before about how the band have presented the songs as they are) this album beats out on being another generic post-punk revival album; offering a neat conceptual reward for the listener by showcasing lighter songs on the end of the album. All in all the production and mixing are good and the performances are brilliant, but the real crux of the pleasures of this album are held within the band’s song writing ability, which at times sounds as though it is throwing a swift middle finger up to all the clichéd alternative bands out there. Where others would try too hard, they have not… And this shows itself simply and neatly through performance, concept and sound.
Tender Madness is available to buy/download right now from jennybesetzt.bandcamp.com
ARTIST: New Horror
RELEASE: Fruitless Search
RELEASE DATE: 27th August 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Soft Verse
Dirty, wild, echoing and beautiful… These are all words one would use to describe the EP Fruitless Search by lo-fi post-punk band New Horror. Their sound is one of untamed uniqueness, nestled somewhere near the punk-violence/garage sound of a band like 'Pigeon Religion' and the warped but dazzlingly emotive riffs of a band like 'Codeine' (but louder). Indeed, Fruitless Search will not be everybody’s cup of tea but, perhaps, this is an indication of the kind of alternative brilliance that can be heard on this EP. Slowcore, garage rock, noise, lo-fi, post-punk, dream rock and alternative rock are just SOME of the genres that get tossed around, from song to song and sound to sound. Funnily enough, most will mute the noise frequency of the band, complain about how distanced the vocals are or beg to know why the guitars are so *expletive word* loud; But honestly these songs and sounds are refreshing… In a technological age where everybody thinks their sound and image are their own, a band like this don’t even try to mount the task of being ‘original’, rather they stick to what they know, churn out rattling song after song after song and defy genres in the process.
Fruitless Search by New Horror
The ghostly, dark and garage infused post-punk song ‘Like a Child’ opens the EP with the bands noise-riddled guitars and drumming reminiscent of classic 80’s style post-punk. The vocals echo heavily in the distance; they sit at such a volume that many can hardly hear them amidst the churning fuzz of the guitar. But before you jump to the conclusion that it’s just a pile of wild fuzz proclaimed to be ‘noise music’ the band showcase their song writing abilities to the absolute maximum when they include an emotive guitar riff over the top of the aforementioned noise. This allows the song to rise from pure noise rock into the realms of dense lo-fi post-punk, with touches of the French orientated Coldwave and other dream rock elements thrown in for good measure. Up next, 'In The Night' growls into earshot with driving guitars, throbbing bass and a repetitious drum pattern before ‘Everything Feels Like a Stab in the Heart’ ambles into frame featuring what sounds like an authentic eighties drum machine keeping the tempo high and fast, as the band show off a more alternative rock related sound. The song still yields post-punk elements underneath the wall of noise and guitars; rising higher than previous tracks, the vocals on ‘Everything Feels Like a Stab in the Heart’ sound more accessible, albeit still in a deeply alternative way.
While these two fantastically well-written songs sound as though the band have put their best foot forward first, this is all thrown out the window when ‘Through You’ begins to play. An absolutely brilliant, first class, downtrodden song of shoegaze proportions, the noisy but dreamy ‘Through You’ showcases an almost slowcore style of sound that the band present to the listener, wrapped in a second hand, dirty, style of wrapping paper. ‘Through You’ runs for six minutes and is built around the slow but intelligent drums that keep the tempo rolling and dreamy; over the top sit the bands noisy and humming guitars… But the added feature that ties the whole song together majestically is a dark and loud synth which sounds like the good-looking cousin of a train engine. Praise should also be given wholly to the fantastic bass riff that’s featured on ‘Through You’, which at times may be hard to hear, but is in fact the musical backbone of the song. Together the instruments manage to bring across a totally wild but completely exalted piece of music; fantastic.
‘White Walls’, a type of interlude, follows on and features a nice, toned down and less noise based sound. The song actually features acoustic guitar, strummed along to a dreamy bass tone and backed eerily with noise-filtered but distanced guitar and a bright soundscape. As the song picks and strums away, it leads into the bands ultimate beast; a ten minute epic called ‘Mirror’. ‘Mirror’ is a monstrous track of immensely beautiful sounds, all melded together and once again stationed around the reverb and hard sound of drums in the background that, beside the occasional fill, maintains the same pounding rhythm for the whole song. The song, in all its musical layering, is actually perhaps more upbeat than most others on the EP. What begins as the bands core (guitars, bass, drums, voice and a few other bits and pieces) playing along eventually exceeds into many sounds, instruments and soundscapes, flooding the listeners ears. ‘Mirror’ is hard to define and outline, but it stands as a brilliant piece of music recorded and presented by a group of song writing virtuosos. Much like all diverse and epic songs, I can’t really do ‘Mirror’ any justice with simple, bland and rhetorical words. You might have to just listen to it.
And there it is, Fruitless Search, an EP heavy and soft, deep but surfaced and loud but almost always beautiful. The production and mixing reflects the sounds that are evident on the release; scratchy and loud, but maintained and done so with a degree of professionalism that appears too simple to be successful. With this very thought in mind, the entire EP, the entire aesthetic of the group may be completely evident on the EPs cover; featuring a bland, awkward photograph of somebody simply standing there. This photo defies the songs that feature no real conceptual basis (in a good way) and the entire sound of the band; simple but deeply brilliant. As mentioned before the song writing is of a majestic and utterly talented quality, as are the performances and the additional sounds and synths that feature throughout.
Fruitless Search is kind of a reinforcement of the idea that there are still warriors out there producing almost completely original music; borrowed and influenced by others but always reshaped and restyled to be their own. And what, I quietly hear you ask, is that supposed to mean? All I’m saying is that many bands throw albums and EP's out, tell you how amazingly original they are and how they smell like critical acclaim when in actual fact they are bland, boring, un-educated and incorrectly referential to the music they supposedly play and are influenced by. Here, with Fruitless Search, the concept of originality in non-professional bands appears and reminds us all what can be achieved when you are actually talented. So I suppose you should probably listen to this EP… As I stated before though, this may not be for everybody, and not everybody may understand it or even try to understand it… And if you don’t, please feel free to *expletive word* off and listen to some self-proclaimed geniuses generic music. This EP is for those who appreciate song writing, context and quality of performance and sound.
Fruitless Search is available to buy/download right now on various formats from softverse.bigcartel.com & newhorror.bandcamp.com respectively.
ARTIST: The Battles Of Winter
RELEASE: At Once With Tattered Sails
RELEASE DATE: 23 September 2016
Post-Rock, Post-Punk with a bit of Alt-Rock and Indie thrown in you say? Well, 'The Battles of Winter' reply swiftly and smartly with their brand new album 'At Once With Tattered Sails'. In what could be the most well produced album I’ve heard from a non-major label in quite a while, the band weave through many sounds to create a dark and atmospheric post-punk album; helped substantially by the amazingly deep and heavy vocals of the album.
'At Once With Tattered Sails' begins with ‘Falcons’ an eerie, post-punk laden track with an intro that uses a slower tempo styled post-punk beat that eventually leads into a hypnotically dark coldwave inspired chorus. ‘Falcons’ sounds like a twisted indie song, full of elements that you could imagine being bright and colourful, turned into a cynical, industrialised landscape. This morphed indie track suits the band profusely though, and a song like ‘Falcons’ does nothing but display the bands most talented tendencies. ‘Hale Seizer’ (see what they did there?) goes even deeper into a perverse darkness, this time with much more minimalist instrumentation, until the rollicking noise rock inspired chorus. This track begins to showcase the deep and thought provoking lyrics, which would not be so out of place if they were read as poetry. The rattle, twangy guitars at the tracks second half maintain a distinctive 80’s coldwave feel, connecting the band back with its musical and artistic roots. The brilliant, two minute punky song ‘Wrong Port’ shows the listener that the band are not solely tied to slow, downtempo, strumming… Rather they show their talent in pulling off what seems to be a much darker, sped up version of an Opera Multi Steel song.
‘Hare Hunter Field’ could be the best song on the album, its slow, quiet beginning seeps into an almost slowcore ballad… The vocals hover spectrally in the mix, as the slow tap of the drum slowly shift, the guitars echo slowly with a reverb style distant in the mix and the track shifts into a heavy, noise ridden track. Everything is highlighted further through the mature and brilliant production and mixing on the album, and occasionally the band show touches of post-rock that make them sound even better with 'Death in a Lemon Grove Part I & II' & 'Shot Down Over Tokyo' being prime examples. ‘Slow Burning Country’ turns the albums sound almost completely alternative rock, but occasionally the band mix this in together with post-punk elements, especially the vocals, which maintain the same profound delivery throughout the entire album. This track highlights the fantastic capabilities of the drums as well; the heavy beat punctuating into the mix, coupling fantastically with the heavy rock of the guitars. Towards the tracks end, the vocals transcend into a higher and impressive registry that gives the music a wild element of ‘surround sound’ quality. ‘Love’s White Thread’ holds back again on instrumentation and instead uses the vocals as the forefront of the sound and the song morphs around it. Although it may appeal to some listeners, ‘Love’s White Thread’ seems less fluent than previous tracks. It also doesn’t show as much of the bands brilliant song writing skills of as other tracks. But, anyway…
‘Sainted Galleries’ is also a contender for the albums greatest song, especially in its magnificent instrumental section in its centre, which slowly and surely brings vocals into the mix. The song brings together sounds touched upon earlier in the album (coldwave and alternative rock especially) and ties it together with the rat-a-tat beat of classic 80’s post-punk, the vocals maintaining their value for the entire entrancing song. 'At Once with Tattered Sails' is not so much an album about performance (although the performances are all brilliant) rather it is an album about sounds. For the listener, the band has conjoined and crafted all sorts of majestic and dark sounds together; thus the sounds on the album come across as truly great, but it is the band who have melded them together so very well to make them even better. Nothing but praise should be handed onto the production and mixing on 'At Once with Tattered Sails', which feels empty, open and echoed all at the same time. Similarly, the vocals are genius; a reminder that post-punk and coldwave music doesn’t have to have distant and low volume yelling to be fantastic. The vocals on the album fit well with the lyrics, displaying a tasteful throwback to the eighties alternative music scene.
While some may feel the album reuses itself too much, I feel that partially that is part of the appeal of the music. For example, pop music vocal deliveries vary from song to song so the average listener thinks each song itself is completely different because of the vocals (that’s pretty much mainstream pop summarised for you). But 'Battles of Winter' maintain the same, deep and echoing voice on nearly every track, which I genuinely feel makes the music ever more powerful. The album showcases everything that should be done in the genre, and how a band should go about producing and mixing an album; achieved cleverly through performance and sound.
RELEASE: Changing Lights
RELEASE DATE: 18/05/15
RECORD COMPANY: Presto Chango Records
Changing Lights, the latest release from Labasheeda, is a prickly collection of songs that leaves the listener with a lot on their mind. The whole record is saturated with a spiky, unsettling feel a little like, maybe, Throwing Muses, with added hardcore edges. Saskia van der Giessen's vocals are affecting throughout, at times lilting and lovely. But it's when she's at her snarliest that the sparks fly.
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Opener Spiral Song, sets the angsty mood with a spare drum beat and wailing violin. The three-piece seem close to relaxing on On The Beach, with its almost (almost) slackerish vibe, but while the lyrics seem to say 'everything feels alright', there's an undercurrent that suggests this might be a bit optimistic. Tightrope is as taut as the title suggests. Instrumental Into the Wide ends the album in a woeful whirl, with the violin taking centre stage while guitars growl in the background.
Changing Lights is out now - https://labasheeda.bandcamp.com/album/changing-lights
AUTHOR: Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr
RELEASE: Out Of Your Ego
RELEASE DATE: 28/04/14
RECORD COMPANY: Seahorse Recordings
Italian dreamgazers Clustersun have flitted at the periphery of my consciousness for awhile now, but after reading a positive review of their work in Big Takeover Magazine and hearing them on the now defunct Flyweight show on college station WZBC, I knew I had to check them out. They also appeared on a compilation I reviewed recently called “Revolution - The Shoegaze Revival”, where they trotted out their trippy band of post punk on a song that also opens this album called “Hipgnosis”.
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The opening bars of "Hipgnosis" wouldn’t be out of place on an early Pink Floyd album, though the vocals are uniquely Clustersun’s. “Meteors” starts off with an almost trademark ominous bass line (which I dig), but that cold wave feeling is quickly nixed by Marco Chisari’s upbeat vocals. “Be Vegetal” is a fine piece of post punk that could have been released anytime in the past 30 years, betrayed only by modern production methods. “Planar I” (is anyone sensing a space theme here?) is a long, spacey song punctuated by trippy electronics and swirling psychedelia. By the 5:30 mark, it transforms into something else altogether, a veritable sonic feast with many layers. The excellent “Nebula” sounds a lot like the great English band, Sad Lovers and Giants, at least vocally. Maybe it’s a question of mood too, as the band brandishes melancholia freely. “Floating” is also in this vein, with some very nice atmospheric guitar work. Then we have “Planar II”, which also has that English post punk vibe, guitar work sliding into Chameleons territory. The song is short but dense, and sweet in the way that good music always is. The band closes the album with the self-titled “Clustersun”, a simmering space rock instrumental. I could actually see them opening a show with this!
In any case, this album has been out for a year and the band sings solely in English and they go well beyond the sometimes limited realms of shoegaze. It’s a really cool record from a promising young band who just finished up their US tour. Let’s hope they come see us again!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Music has always been a driving force for Elizabeth Klisiewicz, which she days "continues to define my existence". During and after her college years, she ran a weekly radio show at WMUA FM Radio and also at a community station in Springfield, MA, in addition to writing music and concert reviews for the college newspaper. At present, she writes for The Big Takeover Magazine and The Active Listener Blog, and recently began producing a semi-regular Mixcloud-based show called The Kitchen Sink. In the real world, when not writing technical manuals, she gets her thrills from reading mysteries, birdwatching, and can always be found with a camera and a maxed-out storage card full of music.